Hello Fanny! And thank you for taking the time for an interview with us. You published your first self-published novel in 2015. What did you learn that you would have liked to know beforehand?
Everything! When I started writing, I knew nothing about this craft. I wasn’t even really aware that I was writing a book – it just happened along the way. A friend told me to just “write down what’s on your mind”, and that was a sound piece of advice I followed. And at one point I had a 400-page manuscript in front of me.
After that I learned with every further step according to the try-and-error principle. I wanted to go to a publishing house and tried a few things until I took the step of self-publishing myself. This is how I learned a lot about how publishers tick, what appeals to readers and what the blogger scene is like. Can you imagine? I didn’t even know before that there’s a market for this kind of literature.
And of course, I learned a lot about myself and writing. You can already tell today which book was my debut and which one I had more writing experience with.
View this post on Instagram
Ich habe coole News für euch! . Noch rechtzeitig, um sich für die #LBM20 auszustatten, könnt ihr jetzt ganz viel tolles Zeug zu mir und meinen Büchern bekommen – in meinem brandneuen Shop bei @spreadshirt 😍 . Und das Beste: aktuell bekommt ihr 1️⃣5️⃣% Rabatt!!! . Ob "Have a FANNY day", das #Elesztrah-Wappen oder das #CtN-#Bandana – ihr könnt alles wild kombinieren, so wie es euch gefällt! . Ich habe mir schon eine Jacke gegönnt, und sie ist einfach ultra cool! Habt ihr schon was mit meinen Designs? Dann zeigt unbedingt her unter dem Hashtag #Fannynatiker 😍 . Zusätzlich habe ich auch noch ein paar coole Designs für #Buttons, #Mouspads und #Untersetzer für euch erstellt. . Den Link zum Shop findet ihr in meiner Bio unter MERCHANDISE . . #spreadshirt #spreadshirtshop #lieblingsjacke #buchverliebt #bücherjunkie #büchernerd #büchersüchtig #bookstagramgermany #merchandise #fanstuff #goodies #haveafunnyday #fannybechert #fannyfiziert #fannyfürdieohren
At the moment everyone is more or less in quarantine. Do you need regular distraction while writing or do you manage better when you’re fully immersed?
Admittedly I notice relatively little of the current limitations. I am a full-time audio book narrator and record in my home studio, so I can continue to work there as usual. Writing is an integral part of my everyday life and the first thing I do in the morning. I don’t need distraction, and I didn’t allow it before the Corona crisis either.
Of course, there is a little bit of input from outside, which can be very inspiring. But since I usually source inspiration from music, I have enough to fall back on in quarantine.
Your book “Countdown to Noah” is also about a pandemic. Do people read it more these days?
I have asked myself this question. Since I didn’t know the answer, I passed it on to my community a few days ago. In fact, it seems that these kind of novels seem to be avoided at the moment and books about nice or funny things are preferred. But there are also enough readers who don’t make their reading taste dependent on the current situation or even consciously look for stories that show us that things could be much worse. I mean, as long as no news about monsters on the rampage become a real topic, there is still hope for us.
You met your publisher at the book fair in Leipzig, right? How important are such events for authors and publishers?
Incredibly important – for every part of me. Me as an author, an audio book speaker, a reader, a person… I love book fairs. It’s an unbelievably great way to meet readers, a unique opportunity for exchange with authors and publishers, and of course an indispensable advertising platform.
The fact that the Leipzig Book Fair was cancelled this year was a really hard blow for the literary scene. Now the great hope for Germany is that the Frankfurt Book Fair can take place, but also in the smaller fairs like BuchBerlin. I sincerely hope that these will happen.
What motivated you to open a Spreadshop?
I love to design the cover and imagery of my books. Of course, I want to make them available to the readers and preferably on all available products: shirts, mugs, mouse pads, buttons, etc. But I can’t do that myself. Even if I decide on a product, I still don’t have the possibility to deliver it to the people in a meaningful way. As an author I don’t have my own physical store, and I don’t really want one either.
Spreadshirt offers a small paradise with a wide range of products! I could never create anything like it on my own. And when I realized that I don’t have to do more than upload my pictures so that my readers can fulfill every merchandise dream, I was convinced!
View this post on Instagram
Wie so viele andere auch, befinde ich mich mitten in der #Messevorbereitung. Denn da ich ein durch und durch optimistischer Mensch bin, bin ich überzeugt, dass die #LBM20 wie geplant stattfindet. . Dieses Mal wird mich meine tolle #CtN-#Blechtasse begleiten 😊 da weiß ich immer, welcher #Becher mir gehört 😁😁😁 . Wenn sie euch genauso gut gefällt wie mir – schaut mal in meiner Bio unter #Merchandise 😏 da findet ihr die #Tasse und noch ganz viel anderes tolles Zeug. . Und noch besser: aktuell gibt es auf meiner Facebookseite ein #Gewinnspiel, wo ihr einen #Gutschein für den Shop gewinnen könnt! . Warum der Becher hier auf einem Haufen brauner #Haare liegt? Tja, ihr werdet es erfahren … . . #lbm2020 #optimist #leipzigerbuchmesse #leipzigerbuchmesse2020 #fannybechert #Fannynatiker #buchmerch
You use Instagram and Facebook to promote your books. There you can also find images of your merchandise. How do fans react to that?
First of all, I’m probably the biggest fan of my own merch. I own a jacket, shirts, cups… And there’s more to come. Of course, I’ll post pictures of it and get fantastic feedback. My enthusiasm is authentic, and the merch finds a lot of approval with my fans and followers. I usually record new sales immediately after posting something.
And when the stuff really connects with the readers, they share it on their social-media channels. That creates further curiosity for the merchandise, but also for the books behind it. A win-win-win!
Is it true that merchandise works especially well in the fantasy genre?
I think it’s an ideal fit. It offers a great way to express a fictional idea in imagery that looks great on clothing and accessories. That’s probably why it has become an established means of fandom, and many readers have become collectors. They are happy when to find merchandise for their new favourite book. It’s no different in the movie and gaming scene.
But I also see a lot of potential in other areas. No matter if it’s a nice saying, a logo or symbol or even pictures of book characters. It’s for every genre. I’ll make my next experiences in the summer when I’m exploring a new genre with my romance novel “I bet you won’t fall in love with me”. I’m already thinking about what kind of merchandise I’ll make available!
You also organize little contests. Why are these so important for fans?
Well, of course the fans are happy about gifts – who isn’t? In the best case that’s something you wouldn’t buy yourself as it is often the case with merchandise articles.
Raffles are a great marketing tool We all know that! They are used to make more people aware of books or merchandise. But I always say: A book can be as good as it is, no one will read it if they don’t know it exists. Sweepstakes help you show raise awareness, with books as well as with other things.
View this post on Instagram
Dank unseres Gartens, der direkt am Haus dran ist, fällt mir nicht die Decke auf den Kopf. Aber ein Buch, so wie es aussieht 😂 . . #elesztrah #blut #federn #highfantasy #fantasyroman #bücherhamstern #durchdrehen #buchverrückt #büchernerd #buch #bücher #SternensandVerlag #alexanderkopainski #fannybechert #elfen #orks #seelenlos #verrücktsein #dieweltstehtkopf
Do you have any tips for other authors or publishers who want to sell their own merchandise with Spreadshop?
One in particular: Just do it! It’s an incredibly simple way to create promotional material and give readers access to some wonderful goodies for your books without having to take any great risks. It’s up to you to make your Spreadshop a success. Because yes, even here it doesn’t work without good advertising. You kill two birds with one stone, because in the end the merchandise advertises the books without you having to go back to.
How do authors find their readers today and how do they get to know them? Does that work more online or at live readings?
A lot of things happen online, even when it comes to paperbacks. As an author, you have to be present – not only with your finished book, but above all with information about it. Things like writing process, character development and sources of inspiration are very interesting for readers and make them aware of the book or author.
And live appearances should not be underestimated – which takes us back to the book fairs – which in my opinion are the most important events. Here you often meet your previously unknown audience strolling around and chatting to you.
View this post on Instagram
Wisst ihr eigentlich, dass ihr die CD-Fassung vom Elesztrah-1-Hörbuch im Onlineshop vom @sternensandverlag bestellen könnt? . Dazu gibt es das coole Poster vom Cover-Remake der SP-Variante. Das ist dann sogar von mir signiert ♥️ . . #elesztrah #Hörbuch #fantasyhörbuch #fantasyreihe #fantasyempfehlung #fantasybücher #fantasyauthor #fantasybooks #fantasybuch #bücherhamstern #feuerundeis #poster #coverliebe #onlineshop
Do you also take your merchandise with you when you are on the road?
I always have my bookmarks or flyers with me, anything I can showcase on my own body! Did I mention how much I love my hooded jacket? For other things like cups and buttons etc., I let the location decide. If I have the opportunity to present and sell it well next to my books, I take some merch with me. I always try to offer something new, so that old fans get their money’s worth, too.
What is your “insider tip” for aspiring authors?
Never be afraid to accept help! For my first book, I wanted to do everything on my own. Partly to prove myself, partly to save costs. Up to a certain point it works, but you reach your limits. And that doesn’t have to be for the sake of your book. There are things you should not do without. For example, honest “test readers”, a good proofreader or a trustworthy publisher, but also the support of bloggers and author networks. Or even a distributor for a good merchandise shop. Not everything is necessary for everyone, but you can’t do everything yourself either.
View this post on Instagram
Was war das für ein wunderbarer #tagderoffenentür im Lager des #SternensandVerlag 😍 einmal mehr 2ar ich ungemein stolz, mich #HüterinderSterne nenne zu dürfen. . Ernsthaft, es hat mich so geflasht, wie viele Leute den Weg nach #Greiz gefunden haben und mit uns ein klein bisschen #Buchmesse-Flair genossen haben. Ich danke allen Besuchern, das ihr da wart und diese erste Fete im Lager zu so etwas Besonderem gemacht habt ♥️ . Und besonderen Dank an all die tolle Autoren und natürlich die #weltbesteVerlegerin @c.m.spoerri , ohne die all das nicht möglich wäre! . Danke @sternensandverlag ! . . #Buch #bücher #bücherregal #verlag #lieblingsverlag #buchverliebt #livestattleipzig #leipzigerbuchmesse2020 #stattleipzig #danke #ihrseiddiebesten #büchersammler #buchhandlung
Thanks for your time Fanny. We are excited about your next novel and wish you all the best for your future as an author and audio book speaker!
Are you an author or working for a book publisher and want to know more about merchandise with Spreadshop? Then send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.